Stubbornly irrational use of antibiotics for acute bronchitis

Using NAMCS/NHAMCS data from 1996 – 2010, Barnett and Linder (in JAMA) wanted to know whether US physicians were still prescribing antibiotics for acute bronchitis, after years of clear data saying these prescriptions were not medically helpful. The sad news:

Despite clear evidence, guidelines, quality measures, and more than 15 years of educational efforts stating that the antibiotic prescribing rate should be zero, the antibiotic prescribing rate for acute bronchitis was 71% and increased during the study period. Physicians continue to prescribe expensive, broad-spectrum antibiotics.

But if we succeeded in driving these inappropriate prescriptions to zero, that would drive yet more profits out of the antibiotic market, highlighting the need for a new delinkage model.


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